Your Perfect Fitness Shoe

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

It’s time for a new pair of shoes. You walk in to your local sporting goods store, head to the “athletics” aisle, and stare at the endless wall of possibilities.

Where do you even start, to shop for a new pair of fitness shoes?

 First, what kind of exercise do you do?

Shoes are labeled by design, and not all designs can function for all things. So, let’s first look at your typical exercise types:

  • Running, high impact dance, or high impact aerobics: choose running shoes.
  • Walking, low impact dance, or low impact aerobics: choose walking shoes.
  • Weight lifting, plyometrics, combination of many activities: choose cross trainers
  • Sports: choose the shoe for your specific sport. (Obviously!)
  • Mind-body exercise like yoga or Pilates: all you need are shoes for before and after your exercise. Barefoot is still best.

Why are there different shoes? What difference does it make?

It makes a big difference. Cross trainers are usually heavier than runners, for instance. The cushioning and support are different for different styles, depending on where the impact will land on the sole. If you play a sport, you really need to use sport specific shoes because of the difference in terrain per sport, and stability within the shoe depending on whether the sport uses mostly forward or lateral motion. (Source: Athletic Shoe Buying Guide.)

So, if I know what I want them for, should I just grab my size and go?

Shoes vary in many ways, depending on brand and design. Some are wider than others in nature, and the cushioning can differ greatly from design to design and even year to year. Sizes can even feel different from brand to brand. Instead, try on the ones you are considering. Try moving around the store in the manner of your exercise or sport. You may feel pressure in certain areas of the foot or even the joints in the body, depending on the shoe.

Even better? Try on a shoe with a professional.

Two such shoe retailers offer professional consultations with your footwear purchase. No longer do you have to purchase shoes just based on your own opinion. Now, a fit professional can analyze your feet and the way they move to help recommend models that are more likely to work for you.

  1. Fleet Feet. At a Fleet Feet store, you tell a footwear professional what your activities are and what kinds of problems you have (achy back, painful joints), and the footwear professional can recommend some brand to try. He will watch your gait and pronation if you are a runner or walker and make recommendations from there.
  2. Foot Solutions. Foot Solutions takes appointments and works one-on-one with each client to find the perfect shoes for each individual’s goals. The appointment lasts about thirty minutes. The fit pro will watch the person move, and will run an array of high-tech tests to really analyze the way the foot naturally stands and moves. Based on that analysis, the pro finds shoes for the client to try, and then customizes the experience through inserts or by making actual physical adjustments on the shoes. They offer athletic and casual wear.

Is foot pain normal?

No! Foot, joint, and spine pain can all be a result of poor shoes or a problem in your stride. Shoes average a life of 6 months; less if you are a daily exerciser. Make sure to change shoes often and ask questions if pain flares up. People that go to places like Foot Solutions in Jacksonville Beach or Orange Park, Florida can expect professional help for people such as:

  • People interested in preventative health.
  • Baby Boomers + as their feet tend to expand and broaden with age.
  • Athletes who put extra demands on their feet.
  • Pregnant women whose feet are affected by weight gain.
  • People with both high and low arches.
  • Anyone experiencing foot pain.
  • People who stand or are active on their feet for a significant portion of the day.

SML TIP:  There is still time to get that new pair of running or walking shoes, and be ready for the SML Women’s 5K Run/Walk & Children’s 1 Mile Fun Run.  Have you signed up yet?

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